Blog & Newsletter

March 29, 2021

In Memory of Grace

I'd like to share this remembrance of writer Grace Edwards during Women's History Month. She wrote great mysteries and was a major influence on me and other young writers who belonged to  the Harlem Writer's Guild.  Grace taught me valuable lessons about kindness and the responsibility of supporting and encouraging aspiring writers.

When I was a member of the Guild in the 1980s, Grace was secretary and executive director. She wrote mysteries set in Harlem and the first,  If I Should Die,  published in 1967 was one of the few by black women, and a great read.  But my favorite Edwards' book was the novel In the Shadow of the Peacock written in 1988. I was afraid to call myself  writer when I first set foot in the Harlem Writer's Guild. We met in the Central Park West apartment of an established writer, which was scary for a novice like me. My husband Richard was successful in both theater and film, and I didn't want other writers to know we were married and assume that he had influenced me. I was determined to make my own way on my own terms. At that point, I'd written only poems and short stories, as many beginning writers do. I hadn't shared my work with anybody, not even my husband.

The workshop meetings were held once a month at which a member would share his or her work. Well-known, professional writers would drop in to offer critiques, which were always constructive and helpful. When my turn finally came to read, I was terrified. My hands shook, and I could hardly control my voice. My story was about a young woman having an affair with a married man told  in the woman's voice and from her perspective. I'd worked hard on it and thought it was pretty good; not everyone agreed.  The guest writer tore into my story with such venom and contempt I still remember how wounded I was, even after all these years. She told me I had no right to call myself a writer and shouldn't continue. I was so devastated I ran into the bathroom and cried, afraid to come back out and determined never to write again.

Grace knocked gently on  the door. She comforted me and said my story was just fine. The problem was the critic, she explained, who was her contemporary and jealous of young talent. Besides that, her husband had just left her for  a younger woman, and my story hit too close to home.  Always take critics, particularly other writers, with a grain of salt, Grace advised. They bring their own vulnerabilities, agendas and craziness to your work. You need to learn to be your own best critic and have faith in what you write. Your writing means too much to you  for you to give it up, and someday it may be important to other people as well.

I am grateful that many years later I was able to thank Grace for her encouragement that night. I told her  how much her words meant to me, and that I would never forget them.  No matter the profession, those of us who mentor younger people should never hesitate to reach out to those in need of our  support.  It's one of the lessons taught by women like Grace.

– Valerie
A photo of the author Valerie Wilson Wesley
March 1, 2021

Dessa’s Go-To Cake Makes Its Tea Time Magazine Debut

Dessa's Go-To Cake

I'm so grateful to all of you who have been so supportive of A GLIMMER OF DEATH, my new cozy mystery. I'm also thrilled—and excited--about the interest in Dessa's Go-To-Cake, which is featured at the end of the book.

Here is an article about the cake in the March/April edition of Tea Time, a charming magazine about tea and desserts. Several readers have graciously sent me photographs of their versions of Dessa's cake, which I've posted in the comments below.

Thank you all!

#AGlimmerOfDeath

– Valerie
February 5, 2021

LA Times: 5 winter mysteries that turn up the heat

LA Times Reviews "A Glimmer of Death"

I am so excited about this review in the Los Angeles Times ! What a thrill to be mentioned in the same space as #WalterMosley, one of my favorite writers. This definitely made my weekend!

click here to read the full article

– Valerie
February 4, 2021

Watchung Booksellers’ Evening with the Authors: Watch now!

Valerie Wilson Wesley in Conversation with V.M. Burns

My thanks to all my FB friends who were able to drop in on the virtual launch of A GLIMMER OF DEATH, my new cozy mystery, hosted by Watchung Booksellers on Wednesday. For those who weren't able to make it, below is the link to Watchung Booksellers, a fantastic independent, that has signed copies of my book. And below is the link to my interview with VM Burns--my great partner in crime!

Even though the date has passed, you can click on the link below, register and then watch our recent interview:

Order your copy of #AGlimmerOfDeath directly from Watchung Booksellers:

 

– Valerie
February 1, 2021

Read my Guest Post on Dru’s Book Musings

All About Odessa Jones

One of the great things about entering the world of cozies is Dru's Book Musings. Dru Ann is a terrific critic and great supporter of writers. Check out her blog https://drusbookmusing.com/

It's always fun to read. Dru Ann was kind enough to invite me do a day in the life of Odessa Jones from A Glimmer of Death.

Here is the link to my guest post.

– Valerie
January 26, 2021

My new book is available to order now!

A Glimmer of Death Book Cover

Breaking News!

I've just released a brand new #mystery entitled #AGlimmerOfDeath. My new #book is available to #order right now. Pick up your copy today at: https://tinyurl.com/AGlimmerOfDeath

– Valerie
November 9, 2020

The Comfort of Cozies

My latest mystery, A GLIMMER OF DEATH, is a cozy. I'm introducing a new character, Odessa Jones, who is quite different from Tamara Hayle. I loved creating and writing about her. I certainly haven't forgotten Tamara and will be independently publishing WHEN ANGELS MOURN, the latest of the series. The gorgeous cover by artist/photographer Stephan Hudson is featured here. Stay tuned for the pub date.

Many readers have asked me how a cozy mystery differs from my private investigator mysteries. Cozy mysteries are--cozy. Character and setting are paramount. Hard cursing and graphic violence are kept off-stage. There's more of a puzzle, move delving into characters and the "why" of how bad things happen. Traditionally,  cozies take place in small towns or cities. A GLIMMER OF DEATH takes place in a suburban Jersey town close to the one in which I live. It's imaginary but not completely imagined. Jersey folks who live nearby may recognize the the place--and the once upon a time "sundown town" that borders it.

The protagonist in a cozy is usually an amateur detective, not a police officer or private investigator.  Her skills are a combination of intuition, mother wit and keen observation. Odessa Jones, my character, also has a special gift.  Here's how she describes it in the first chapter of the book:

I have what some folks call "second sight." I can sense, smell and hear things other folks can't. Hazy auras, sometimes with color that my Aunt Phoenix calls "glimmers" appear when certain people enter my space. I can "read" rooms and know intimate things about their occupants. When bad things are on the way, I can sense them. Every now and the, other people's words tumble out of my mouth. (That God, that's not often!)

There's a reason people turn to cozies when life feels too tough to deal with and for me and so many folks the past few months have been challenging. As a writer, there has been comfort in escaping to comfortable places. Yet a cozy is a mystery, the puzzle is solved in the end. The bad guy or girl is caught but there is a lighter, bittersweet touch. Life goes on in the "cozy" world the writer has created. In my book, Dessa continues to fight the grief and loneliness that overwhelmed her after her husband's sudden death, but she goes on with life. She leaves work each day to return to her comfortable little house (even though its on the verge of foreclosure!) and her plump little cat (yes, there is often a cat in a cozy mystery!) and her glass or two of merlot (depending on the day) in front of her TV.

I've loved bringing aspects of my real life into this book and character. I love to cook and one of my daughters is a chef. (Dessa is a caterer). Our family has a lovable black cat who has snuggled his way into our hearts. (My inspiration for Dessa's cat Juniper). And I can pay homage to my Aunt Odessa, one of the smartest women I've ever known. She was an inspiring woman and a voracious reader who read to me, my sister Pat and cousin Karla each night and drew us into the magical, glorious world of books that we all grew to love and never left.

I hope you enjoy reading A GLIMMER OF DEATH as much as I've enjoyed writing it. It can be pre-purchased on Amazon.com.  And for those readers who miss Tamara, Basil and Wyvetta--they're right around the corner!

 

– Valerie
May 19, 2020

Coming Soon!

Please come back again soon. My new website is almost ready and I will be sharing regular updates with you here as a blog and through email as a newsletter.

– Valerie